Kids like meatballs, at least mine does. This simple yet unique recipe gives them a more grown up, healthy spin.  It’s made with turkey, so it’s low fat. Carrots and spinach provide crucial veggie content. Instead of as a soup – as written by Deb Perleman of Smitten Kitchen –  I use it virtually unchanged, as a pasta sauce. Both are great.   I make extra meatballs and freeze them for a quick snack or dinner later.

Carrot Meatball Soup




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With the baby due any day now (for anyone who didn’t know, I’m 38 weeks pregnant) I’m obsessed with nursery decor.  My most recent passion? Mobiles. I want one. Actually, I want to make one, but am not sure how to go about doing it.

I’ve been scouring the net for inspiration. I want something bold and sculptural; eye candy for the baby but also fetching room decor in its own right.  I love the Calderesque look, but sharp metal pieces hanging over a baby’s head seems like a bad idea.

Here’s a couple mobiles I really dig.


Exotic animals are boy-friendly and not too cutesy (unlike the numerous butterflies and birdies you see everywhere.)

Made with leather, this abstract mobile from Etsy is eye candy for grown ups. But will a baby dig it too?





One Response to “I want to be crafty: Homemade mobiles”

  1. Nicolas Antoine Says:

    A baby needs something solid. Better get a few industrial machines and go to Calder’s style. It’s an investment, but having your own homemade inox mobiles for baby, that’s priceless.

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My friend Marc shared this article with me today. In “Why You’re Not Married” Tracy McMillan, a screenwriter on Mad Men and United States of Tara, discusses what it takes to find a committed relationship. It’s amusing, cynical, and more than a little insightful (but be warned ladies, some content may offend.)

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January 6th, 2011 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !

This lazy blogger has been meaning to share a delicious Christmas cookie recipe pulled from always-inspiring pages of Chatelaine magazine.   The combination of chocolate chunks and ginger is sheer yuletide magic and my Christmas party guests gobbled them up almost as fast at the potent Jack Daniel’s punch. (Recipe note: Be sure not to overbake the cookies. The descripton, “bake until golden” confused me. I’d say “bake until the cookies go a shade lighter, and slightly golden.” Or just stick to the cooking time prescribed versus judging by colour. I spoiled a batch projecting my own idea of golden, which is darker and deeper than Chatelaine’s idea. Or maybe I’m just colour blind.  Though the white sugar coating added a festive flare to the cookie, I’m not sure it was necessary. Not adding it will give the cookies a more classic chocolate chip cookie vibe that you can make year-round.  Next time I try a batch without. But either way, this cookie recipe is a must-make, even for those of you who, like me, detest gingerbread cookies.)

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I threw a Christmas cocktail last Friday and whipped up this easy and oh so potent punch.   What’s nice about serving punch is that it’s premade. No shaking and stirring while other guests arrive and suddenly you’ve got a queue of cocktail-less guests in need of a hit.  It’s also more glamorous then mulled wine or egg nog and yet, so simple to make.  Just mix together a bottle of Jack,  some fruit juice, spiced rum and a little maple syrup.  The result is intoxicating, mysterious… It’s not just a punch, it’s a potion.

To serve this magical elixir, just fill up a glass bowl with the necessary ingredients and lay it on the counter.  When a new guest arrives, fill a glass with ice from a nearby bucket, scoop in a ladle-full of punch and hand it over (always with the caveat “Be careful, it’s pure booze.” )   My guests loved it.   Some dreamt about it after. It’s a Christmastime keeper and I will definitely make it again next year, or sooner.

Wenzou Punch   – Adapted from The New York Times.

1 bottle of Jack Daniels, 750 ml

375 ml squeezed clementine juice

1/ 4 cup maple syrup

1 /4 cup Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

sliced Clementines for garnish

Mix  ingredients in a big glass bowl (or ceramic, if you do not have glass.)  Ladle indivdual 2 ounce portions in cups or small glasses with ice.  Placing a pretty ice bucket beside the punch works perfectly. I advise YOU controlling the serving. One per guest, two per very special guest. IMPORTANT: Add the ice as the punch is poured not earlier or it’ll water down the mix. I used fresh-squeezed clementine juice instead of tangerine and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum for the required dram. If you want you can chill the punch first in the fridge but it is not necessary and I like how the ice mellows the room temperature punch as you pour it.  Serves punch for 15 to 20.

I served the punch in tiny wine glasses I found at my local fripperie. (Forget plastic cups! So tacky and and bad for the planet. You can always re-donate your glasses after the party if you don't want to store them.) Smaller glasses work better, since this punch packs a whollop and a little goes a long way. Two ounces on ice is enough to get your guests warmed up and ready to mingle, then they can switch over to wine or beer for the rest of the evening.

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On a cool summer evening at the FC’s grandparents home on the Cote D’Azur, I was treated to the most delicious lamb and apricot tagine.  I kept serving myself more (seconds, thirds)  hoping no one would notice, and panicky as I saw others also diving in.  Would there be enough for fourths? I could barely focus on the dinner party conversation, too busy thinking about how I could score another spoonful without raising eyebrows.

Nadette and Henri’s cook, Rose, consistently blows my mind with her simple, homestyle French cooking.  This tagine (which served twelve that night)  is one of my favourites and when the FC asked for the recipe, Rose kindly sent us a scan from her  book. (Alas, the book is not dentified here, but I intend to find her source,  promise!)   Unlike other Morroccan lamb stews,  the recipe doesn’t call for extra vegetables or canned tomatoes, it’s just lamb, onions, dried apricots, spices, and water.  So basic, I love that.   I also love the sweet syrupy texture the apricots add to the stew. Divine.

I made the tagine last night for a winter dinner party and it was a huge hit.  Just like Rose, I served it with polenta instead of the traditional couscous. It’s just the perfect (and crazy-easy) compliment for this dish.   For the vegetarians, I made Julia’s Child ratatouille, which also pairs nicely with polenta but a simple salad would work too if you’re not catering to herbivores (who I totally respect, by the way!)

Here’s the recipe. It serves six, but you can easily double it, as Rose did, for bigger groups.  Serve directly from the pot, buffet style, so your guests can dive right in (and you don’t have to deal with arranging individual plates, which always leaves the first person waiting politely as their food turns to ice.  Just watch out for the gluttons (like me)  this dish goes fast.

The recipe is in French so you’ll have to translate, as I did.  But the dish itself is a breeze.  (Quick Note On The Lamb Preparation: The recipe calls for forty-five minutes of simmering, but I doubled this (making sure to add the apricots only for the last twenty minutes.) You can’t really overcook lamb shoulder, it just gets more and more melt-in-your-mouth tender. I also asked the butcher to leave a few bones in some of the meat cubes, for added flavour. Quick Note On the Polenta: I doubled Giada De Laurentis’  recipe,  adding less butter and about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan for extra kicks. )

Bon appetit!

2 Responses to “Winter Dinner Party – Rose’s Tagine With Polenta”

  1. Andrea Glenn Says:

    I made this for some friends tonight and it was amazing. Added bonus: brushing up on my French with some help from google translate. Well worth the work. Thank you!

  2. laura Says:

    Andrea, I’m so glad it worked out for you. And bravo on the French.

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October 29th, 2010 Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My friend Elena told me about these disgusting-looking Halloween cookies (Witch Fingers) and now I can’t wait to make them. (Click on the photo and jump to the original recipe at

One Response to “Halloween Cookies”

  1. Cesar Says:

    Does it taste good?

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October 27th, 2010 Uncategorized | 1 Comment

An old cooking phobia is finally conquered. Homemade pizza dough. Thanks to this recipe from Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn, I have the power to make pizza from scratch any time I want. With no rising required, you can make the dough the same night. It’s thin and crispy and just the way I like it. Feeling ambitious (and with the help of my friend Peter ) I also tried Smitten Kitchen’s Simple Pizza Dough. It’s a little thicker, also crisp but with a pleasant “chew,” and requires just 2 hours rising time. Both are great. I combined SK’s shaved asparagus pizza recipe with Apartment Therapy’s dough and it was perfection.

Oh, one more thing. Buy a pizza stone. Trust me, you won’t regret it. You can use them for all kinds of baking; including bread, cookies and biscuits. I seriously cannot believe the quality pizza coming out of my humble oven with this stone. It wasn’t expensive either. At La Soupiere on Mont Royal, a large rectangular stone cost me $24, but I saw smaller round ones for only $12. I also read an article on how you can build your own pizza oven using unglazed ceramic tiles, which sounds cool too.

Even better, when you make your own pizza, you control the cheese. (Cheese equals fat, remember?) Speaking of which, the Provolone Fort from Hamel’s I added to my asparagus pizza was divine. I also recommend adding asiago or anything with a little kick to your basic mozarella base. You can be sparing too. With a thin crust, a little cheese goes a long way.

For the red sauce I followed the link on Apartment Therapy to a simple and delicious red sauce. It was yet another revelation. So easy and so yummy. One batch makes volumes, and I froze more than half. But please, add more than the 2 tablespoons indicated. With the oven at 500 degrees, the sauce evaporates quickly. Even on these small pizzas, you need more like 1/3 cup minimum, even a 1/2. This way you can really enjoy the flavour. For my red sauce combo, I used finely chopped onion or shallots, sliced mushroom, sliced tomatoe and Italian sausage. I also added a little red sauce to the SK asparagus pizza and it added a nice tang. Once you know how to make the dough, you can do pretty much anything you want with the toppings.

I’m so excited I want to open up my own pizza shop.

No need to fuss with the shape of the pizza crust. Leave the perfect circles to PizzaPizza.

A pizza stone gives the crust a crisp, evenly-baked texture all the way through.

Making my own red sauce was so satisfying (and so easy.) Canned tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, wine and 8 cloves garlic. That's it!

One Response to “Homemade Pizza Dough”

  1. laura Says:

    Made this again the other night and cracked a new topping combo, courtesy of Peter and his friend Derek. Cheese (fontina, cheddar) spinach, finely chopped onion and sun dried tomatos (keep them whole, and use the dry chewy kind, they tenderize well at this temperatre and add a really great texture the final pizza.)
    Love this simple dough so much. No more going back to Dr Oetker’s!

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September 13th, 2010 Uncategorized | Leave a comment !

Finally, a picture of our new kitchen. The FC took this with his brand new IPhone (obssessed with all the applications, suddenly he’s snap-happy, which is good news for the blog.)

As you can see, there’s no countertop, nor backplash, no facade for the island, nor handles on the cupboards. But even in its unfinished state, you can feel the warm spirit of the space.

I love my new kitchen.

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